- Henderson, Schuyler
- Date of entry: Jan-11-2006
A 110-ton, 33 foot by 60 foot elliptical sculpture of stainless steel plates welded together with almost invisible seams, polished into a smooth rounded shape like an enormous glob of mercury. It rests in Millenium Park in Chicago, where its organic form has earned it one of those epithets so damningly accurate it becomes an endearing nickname: informally, the piece is called The Bean. The concave shape has a 12 foot high arch, through which spectators can walk into a 27 foot high chamber.
This central curvature is called the "omphalos": omphalos is a term that can mean center or hub, or a raised prominence within the base of an object (its literal meaning here), but also has connotations of a navel or a belly. Like a mercury Henry Moore, this piece refines the human form into its most basic curves: "Cloud Gate" is so titled by Kapoor because it invites the sky and clouds into the city, but it is also a body, kneeling perhaps, with the sky above and the reflected bodies of those walking under it cupped in its belly.
Millenium Park, Chicago